TN: Red grapes of Piedmont (well, most of them)

In advance of our trip to Piedmont next week, my wife and I tasted through the key red grapes side-by-side. Even for me, I’d had examples of all of these independently, but tasting them all side-by-side was eye-opening; in particular, the gulf in quality between the Nebbiolo and the Freisa, and the difference between the dolcetto (DARK fruit) and everything else (mostly red fruited).

Can’t wait for our trip!

  • 2014 Giacomo Grimaldi Dolcetto d’Alba - Italy, Piedmont, Alba, Dolcetto d’Alba (6/22/2016)
    I kind of liked this, but it’s very dolcetto-y. No obvious oak, clean winemaking, lots of acidity, black cherry, licorice, herbs. Juicy, goes down easy. Nice with a chill. I’m not a fan of such darkly-fruited wine, generally, but this is well-made. (88 pts.)
  • 2014 De Forville Barbera d’Alba - Italy, Piedmont, Alba, Barbera d’Alba (6/22/2016)
    My wife liked this much more than me; I found it sort of generic. Red fruit, herby, lots of dust, high acid, very little tannin. Good food wine, but not really distinguished; if I wanted a wine to serve this purpose I’d much rather have something from the Jura. (86 pts.)
  • 2011 Fratelli Brovia Barolo Villero - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo (6/21/2016)
    Oh my. White truffles, red fruit, fine ripe tannin (but plenty of them). Just builds and builds with air. A concentrated, rich midpalate, and a long finish. So accessible today. Better than 6 months ago, that’s for sure (92 pts.)
  • 2013 Fratelli Brovia Langhe Freisa La Villerina Secca - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Langhe DOC (6/21/2016)
    Tasted alongside the Brovia 2011 Villero Barolo (I understand this is also from Villero). A fascinating comparison - this is so much less aromatic, and so much coarser, with loads of bitter tannin. Reddish fruit, plenty of savory character, some bitter chocolate, but the aromatics are muted and the rusticity is obtrusive. (86 pts.)

If you see it while in Piedmont, the GD Vajra Freisa Kye is very good, and does not display the bitter tannin that you describe in your note on the Brovia. It is also, in my experience, quite expressive aromatically and very good with many foods of the region. I consider it the best Freisa I’ve tasted.

Enjoy your trip.

That was originally going to be the Freisa in this tasting (and I was going to get a Vajra Barolo to taste alongside it), but the store I was buying it from sold out of it the day before I showed up, so some improvisation was necessary.

If you visit Burlotto, their Freisa is also good, though in a fruitier, more approachable style.

And, what? No pelaverga or grignolino?

The best Freisa I ever had is the Vigneti Massa Freisa L’Avvelenata. The 2014 Cantine Valpane Grignolino del Monferrato Casalese Euli is stellar, especially for the price. Very Poulsard like.

I really like when Freisa is done in this aromatic, more “feminine” style. I thought the Brovia Freisa at one time was more in this vein but they probably change from vintage to vintage.
The Vajra Freisa is a really great wine but to me it is structured and more “serious” like a Barolo.

Or Ruche?

Shame on me. How could I forget?

Point taken, John. I will have to fix that this evening.
Or Grignolino? [cheers.gif]
We recently tasted all the upstream mentioned varieties and the very pale Pelaverga (Fratelli Alessandria) was a stunner. A pleasant surprise.

I really enjoyed the Cavallotto Freisa at the winery last year and bought a bottle back home to share with friends. It didn’t let me down.

I openly admit I enjoyed these notes and the straightforward but useful comparison that David created. Seemingly sincere notes, both positive and negative, but without the needlessly harsh commentary in other posts (mostly related to CA Pinot) that I mostly find annoying. Thank you for sharing, David, and enjoy your trip.

Burlotto’s pelaverga is outstanding, too. Like Alessandria, they are in Verduno.

What about a decent pinot nero

I recall liking a Rocche di Manzoni pinot nero I had 10 years or so ago.

Maybe I had an off vintage, but I would struggle to describe Burlotto’s Pelaverga as “outstanding”.

I did enjoy it in a geeky sort of way, but at least to me, outstanding implies it is something I’m going to seek out, and I haven’t felt the urge to buy any more.

FWIW, I was even less impressed with Montalbera’s Ruche’ - I’m pretty sure I preferred their Grignolino.

To each his own. When I’ve had it (and I haven’t had the last several vintages), it was lovely, light, fruity and spicy wine that I found quite intriguing. More than just geek appeal for me – a nice wine in its place.

Not to break stones here, John, but the phrase “a nice wine in it’s place” doesn’t exactly remind me of outstanding either.

Maybe we both enjoyed the wine, but in your first post you were guilty of some irrational exuberance :wink:

I meant outstanding for a pelaverga. And I don’t mean that as a backhanded positive. I find the Burlotto version holds my interest.

I don’t demean grapes because they’re not grand and dense. Claude Kolm in his newsletter has a nice musical analogy for wine: Beethoven’s Ninth isn’t appropriate for all occasions.